Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vale Michael Callaghan

It is with great regret we note the passing away of the Australian artist Michael Callaghan (1952-2012). We were very proud to have been associated with Michael, staging his exhibition, The Torture Memo, in 2010. The gallery was looking forward to presenting his second solo exhibition in November this year, 2012.

It was an honour to work with Michael; a searing intelligence who applied his life to the creative arts in Australia, pushing the cultural envelope into political action.

Many will know Michael fought with illness and pain for the last 20 years, yet it was still a shock to learn of his death.

It was a privilege to attend his wake in the small Southern Highlands town of Exeter where amazing creative Australians gathered from as far as Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney to honour his life. Born in Wollongong, Michael, when a young teenager, discovered with his school friend Philip Batty the interventionist possibilities of Dada. Together they explored the underground art/film/political scene of Sydney and even did an art performance at the launch of the seminal book on Australian artists: ‘In the Making’.

From being a student at the National Art School, Darlinghurst in the early seventies through to his involvement with the Tin Sheds at Sydney University, Michael is remembered as having a sharp sense of design and style and just as sharp sense of literature and politics.

His political posters and campaigns for the Earthworks Poster Collective and Redback Graphix are now firmly placed in the collections of Australian cultural institutions.

In 2010, after a fellowship at the ANU, we staged the exhibition The Torture Memo: Recent Works, which was both beautiful in its style, finish and attention to detail as well as being confronting with its raw exposé of the Iraqi War.

I will remember it as one of the highlights of this gallery’s history.

The gallery’s association with Michael was to continue this November, 2012 with another solo exhibition of new work.  This time more three dimensional sculptural work was envisaged with the overall theme relating to the huge multinational armaments industry. Like all his work, Michael was researching in minute detail the labyrinth-like and brutal world of arms trading; guns and money.

The gallery, with the imprimatur of his wife Bronwyn Barwell, has decided to proceed with the exhibition, but now we will ask a number of Australian artists to contribute work based around the themes Michael was developing.

The opening will be Tuesday night November 13, 2012 - see you then. 

Damien Minton

Michael Callaghan in 2010 at Redfern

Ross Laurie in Not the Way Home

Ross Laurie is in the group exhibition NOT THE WAY HOME at the S.H. Ervin Gallery until 1st July. The show was forged through a two week residency in Fowlers Gap, an outback research station. Read the feature in last Sunday's Telegraph.

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Carment, Laurie and Gardiner get the thumbs up from John McDonald in the Salon des Refuses

In last weekend's SMH Spectrum, John McDonald called this year's Archibald a "generally acknowledged [...] dud show". He at least has some kind words for Tom Carment, Ross Laurie and Peter Gardiner in his review of the Salon des Refuses, the "breakaway" exhibition curated from the unselected entrants in the Art Gallery of New South Wales' Wynne and Archibald prizes.

Tax laywer and poet Geoffrey Lehmann by Tom Carment

“If I had to choose a favourite portrait, I’d fall back on stalwart performer Tom Carment, who has given us a typically sensitive depiction of Geoffrey Lehmann…” – John McDonald, Spectrum, SMH, 28 April, 2012

Peter Gardiner, Swamp I (Burrumbeet), 2012

One of two “... original, confident works [] Peter Gardiner’s hypnotic Swamp I (Burrumbeet)” John McDonald, Spectrum review: Salon des Refuses, SMH, 28 April, 2012

Ross Laurie, Ridge and Creek - Fowlers Gap, 2011, oil on canvas, 1200 x 1500 mm 
“The two most impressive Wynne rejects are Ross Laurie’s Ridge and Creek – Fowlers Gap and Gladdy Kemarre’s Anwekety (Bush Plum). One wonders what Laurie has to do to be selected for the Wynne, as he is arguably one of Australia’s most dynamic landscape painters, albeit in a semi-abstract idiom. Although it is no easy matter to identify the specific features if a landscape in Laurie’s work – let alone swaggies, jumbucks and other standard bush items – he conveys a powerful sense of the heat and light of the Australian environment – in this instance, the arid regions near Broken Hill. – John McDonald, Spectrum review: Salon des Refuses, SMH, 28 April, 2012

Considered prestigous in its own right, we heartilty congratulate Tom, Peter and Ross for being selected into the Salon des Refuses, at the S.H. Ervin Gallery until May 20.